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Thread: How long do tegus really live in captivity?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Labasa, Fiji

    Default How long do tegus really live in captivity?

    I remember when I got my tegu I read that they lived 15-20 years in captivity but it seems like a lot of tegus die a lot sooner than that (from what I've read on here). Most everyone on this site seems to be extremely knowledgeable and care greatly about their pets however it doesn't seem uncommon for them to die well before 15 years. I was reading a post by a member who said they got 3 tegus from Varnyard and one of them died (for no apparent reason). I guess what I'm trying to ask is even under the best conditions is it wrong for me to expect my tegu to live for 15 years? My tegu seems to be perfectly healthy and is growing extremely rapidly however I did a lot of stuff wrong for the first 6 months I had him (I've had him 11 months) and I was told he was 8 months old when I got him from the pet store. The exotics vet also said that he appeared extremely healthy during his last checkup. Are there any signs that I should look for in a sick tegu other than the obvious - lethargy, loss of appetite, mucus, impaction, prolapse, shedding difficulty, etc. Or do tegus sometimes just die for no reason even under perfect circumstances?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Central FL


    I have heard of tegus living to be 16 years old. The problem is that many people are still learning about their care. Take diet for instance....some say they can eat a 100% carnivorous diet while others say they are omnivorous. If it turns out that in fact they can't handle so much meat, then it causes kidney damage in the long run. That scenario happened with iguanas when they were first being kept as captive pets.

    I had a tegu pass away that was only 3 years that died during hibernation. But I wasn't his first owner and he appeared to have past signs of MBD. I have a new tegu that had a horrible start to life, so who knows what's up with him. Kidney disease is insidious, often chronic, and sort of sneaks up on you sometimes. My Burmese python is 12yo and has chronic kidney disease. At 12ft, he was kept in a 75 gal tank for the first 10 years of his life before we got him. He had mites and was always dehydrated. The effect is there now and will probably affect his life span.

    When I first started keeping beardies, the lifespan in captivity was about 5 years. Now it's 11-12 years if kept properly, but people still lose them at 4-5 years if kept poorly. Tegus are relatively new and more is being learned every year.

    A tegu can look healthy on the outside, but you don't always know what's going on inside. I just went on vacation and snorkeled every day, walked the town,etc. You might not guess that I have rheumatoid arthritis and my autoimmune antibodies are so high that I have a medical appointment every week to donate plasma just to get rid of some of them to try and control my immune system. Or you can't look at someone and see cancer or diabetes. But you do have a better chance when you choose a tegu that isn't obviously lethargic, having shedding problems, sick with URI, etc.

    Hope that helps.
    Laura R (FL)
    1.0.0 Colombian Tegu
    1.4.0 Argentine B&W Tegu
    1.2.0 Red Tegu
    1.2.0 B/WxRed Tegu
    1.0.0 Green Ameiva (yet another teiid)
    7 other lizards
    1 little gator
    3 FL box turtle
    1 Sulcata tortoise
    16 snakes
    5 fuzzy pets
    4 little frogs
    a bunch of creepy bugs
    and a partridge in a pear tree


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